Paper Money

Syria’s inflation woes require issuing 5,000-pound note for circulation

Inflation in Syria is so bad that on Jan. 24 the government issued for circulation a 5,000-pound note, which is convertible to about $9.75 in U.S. dollars.

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Inflation in Syria has gotten so bad that, on Jan. 24, the government issued a 5,000-pound note, which at 512 pounds to the dollar is convertible to about $9.75 in U.S. dollars.

The Central Bank of Syria said the note was part of measures to confront inflation and secure cash needed for trade.

This is according to a report by Xinhua, the Chinese news agency, which also said the new bank note was printed two years ago but was held back until now because “the Central Bank of Syria found that the time has become appropriate, according to the current economic variables, to introduce the new banknote.”

The Syria Times gave another explanation, attributed to the government. It said that the minister of economy and foreign trade, Dr. Muhammad Samer Khalil, confirmed that putting the new denomination into use with the rest of the current note denominations will not lead to inflation, that it would not increase the money supply, and that its purpose is to replace quantities of damaged lower denomination notes.

As recently as 2011, the official exchange rate was 47 pounds to the dollar, meaning 5,000 pounds is not quite what it used to be. The crash in the currency’s value is attributable to the country’s constant state of war, along with international sanctions.

The new note has a face with text in Arabic with a Syrian soldier saluting next to the nation’s flag. The back features text in English and has a fresco from the ancient Temple of Baalshamin in the city of Palmyra. The temple was destroyed by the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL, in 2015. After Palmyra was retaken by the Syrian army in March 2016, Syria’s director of antiquities said the temple of Baalshamin will be rebuilt using the remains.

The current series of bank notes was first issued in 2010 but with 2009 dates, in denominations of 50, 100, and 200 pounds. New 500-pound and 1,000-pound notes were released in 2014 and 2015. A 2,000-pound note with the image President Assad made its debut in 2017.

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